Queen Rania Foundation

Early Math Learning - Starting Young


Advanced mathematical skills that children learn in school are built on a strong foundation of early math understanding. Children start developing the essential understanding of math even before their first birthday, when they start getting a sense of numbers, space and shape.

As a parent, you can help your child learn math in everyday life, by using mathematical language in daily activities like counting the buttons when buttoning a shirt, measuring ingredients in a recipe, or finding shapes on items when you go grocery shopping.

Children should learn some mathematical skills early on to help them get ready for learning in school, such skills include:

  • Basic understanding of measurement, shapes, spaces, positions, numbers, order and patterns

  • understanding the concept of numbers

  • Recognizing the numerals

  • Understand what “More” or “Less” mean

  • Understand one-to-one correspondence

  • Understand positional words, such as in, on, outside and under

Children learn and develop through playing, exploring, asking questions and being active. There are many opportunities to introduce your child to math as you go about your day, here are some tips and ideas to help your child develop those necessary skills by age 5:

Math can be part of many activities you do with your child during the day:

  1. When you dress your child count the pieces of clothing they will wear

  2. Find the same amount of different items, like 3 spoons and 3 plates

  3. Talk about the shape and size of different objects, a table is a square or a plate is a circle

  4. Try making patterns with different objects like bottle caps, stones, or building blocks

  5. Group similar items together, like all shirts of the same color, or all balls of the same size

  6. Introduce your child to problem solving by working out questions like “you have 2 bananas and I have 1, how many do we have altogether?”, or “We are 4 people and we have 3 sandwiches, how many more do we need?”

Have fun with Math: games are a great way to help children develop a positive attitude towards math:

  1. Play with cards and count them, name the numbers on them, add the numbers and find the matching numbers

  2. Play shops with items around the house using pretend money like Monopoly money

  3. Play with blocks and talk about the size, color, shape and texture. Build patterns and structures and ask questions like “how many blocks can we pile up to make a tall tower”

  4. Play with containers and ask questions like which one is bigger and how many toys can we fit in the box

  5. Play a game of treasure hunt and give your child clues in directional language; up, down, under, between, behind, beside, in front, on top

  6. Play board games like snakes and ladders

  7. Find objects like spoons  and say which ones are longer, shorter, bigger or smaller

Practice math when you are out and about with your child:

  1. Look for numbers around you on the building, cars, shops and everywhere, and talk about the meaning of those numbers and what they represent

  2. Play games using counting, like skipping or jump rope

  3. Look for shapes around you and name them, like triangle signs, circle wheels, square banners

  4. Count anything, like the number of cars, lampposts, tiles on a sidewalk, or the cats you come across

Songs and books: nursery rhymes and children’s books are a great way to introduce your child to basic math:

  1. Sing songs like “1 2 3 4 5 once I caught a fish alive”

  2. Sing songs of backward counting such as five little monkeys

  3. Look for numbers and shapes in newspaper and magazines

  4. Read books with numbers and point to the numbers, say their name, and count the corresponding items on the same page

The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) provides guidance to children’s learning and development, including the skills a child should learn before the age of 5 and tips for parents to help their children develop those skills, the guide is available for download here.



Fadia Hamdi

Communications and Media Manager

Queen Rania Foundation